LinkedIn (What is it Good For?)

The folks who really stay on top of the professional networking site LinkedIn call themselves LIONs, for “LinkedIn Open Networkers.” They have a somewhat confusing practice of accepting any and all connections. You can see what they’re up to here.

I do have some of them in my networks, and I’m connected at the site directly to maybe a hundred people who I don’t personally know. I use LinkedIn mostly as a way to have my resume and recommendations out in public, sort of as a soft lead source. I also try to help friends connect to friends of my friends on jobs, and I sometimes pass job leads directly through status updates. My understanding is this is the general way most people use the system.

I’ve also become a fairly active group user, linking to people with shared interests and participating on discussions about things like the best databases for performing background checks.

How to handle LIONs in groups seems to be a bit of a conundrum for LinkedIn and its users. I recently accepted an open invite to a leadership networking group, only to have the administrator complain to me privately and take down a introductory posting I put up. Seems that many of the groups are clogged with discussions based on open networks aggressively promoting themselves. How to deal with that, indeed.

And perhaps the most obnoxious (or simply clueless) thing I’ve seen in groups is people promoting their services within a group of people who all provide exactly the same services. That seems really counter productive.

My recommendation: if you’ve got an open membership group on LinkedIn and want to have some kind of rules, create a discussion about those rules and make sure that discussion stays near the top of the front page by frequently bumping it up. Have one thread for introductions, one thread for job leads, and stop it there. And if you don’t do this, don’t complain or don’t have a group.

Do you use LinkedIn? Do you manage a group? What kind of problems have you seen, and are they addressed at all by my thoughts? If not, what would you do differently?

(photo by Tambako the Jaguar)

3 thoughts on “LinkedIn (What is it Good For?)

  1. Adriel, as usual, great food for thought. I manage a small linkedin group (170 members, with about 7 new members a week) for the fractional ownership sector (small niche in real estate development) and 99.9% of the members are affiliated with the industry in some way. It’s not an open group, but I admit anyone who asks. The discussions have been good, with legitimate questions being posted. Even self promotion is done within the parameters of the group’s focus and doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Recently, I’ve had one LION who isn’t affiliated with the sector, as far as I can tell, and posts new discussions 3x as much as anyone else and aside from his introducing himself at the beginning, none have been remotely related to the niche, unless business processes in general somehow connect. I think your suggestion about a creating a discussion on appropriate topics and discussion rules is a good idea. Our group is small, so perhaps a discussion of rules is not needed at this time, but certainly, if we get to the point where dissecting the on-point discussions from the unrelated ones becomes a problem, then I might start such a topic. In the meantime, I hate to do it, but I’m gently nudging the offender to post more appropriately…it’s not perfect because I don’t want to limit someone’s speach or POV, but I also don’t want other members to feel the group is losing its value for them.

  2. @ Bruce. I wrote this post for you, but I like to get my thoughts out there in public that keep the group active. So thanks for sparking the discussion and keeping it going!
    I think you are well within your rights as a group manager to nudge someone back onto topic, and I think a clear set off guidelines are appropriate so people from outside know what to expect from your moderation as admin. I was surprised when I was asked not to post an introduction in a very generic group, and simply left the group to focus on my core interests.
    I also have been advised that folks trying to set a up a group or new network should open it first to friends and close connections to set and help sustain the appropriate tone.

  3. Pingback: Are You Networking for Entertainment, Or Value? « Adriel Hampton

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